In the public health arena, social workers are a valuable resource for the development of treatment plans for patients, for locating supportive resources, and in facilitating referrals. Under the auspices of government and non-government public health organizations and institutions, social workers often provide behavioral and social assessments along with mental health assessment, treatment, and short-term or ongoing case management. Social workers may also work in the community as planners or community organizers capable of engaging groups of people, neighborhoods, or entire communities to address social problems such as drug abuse or teen pregnancy. Social work is a distinct profession, requiring college training, and a masters degree is often a necessity. Many states license social workers, and in those states only those holding such licenses may legally provide social work services The possibilities of employment vary widely and include federal, state, and local government agencies; hospitals; and public health and not-for-profit organizations.
ROBERT P. LABBE
(SEE ALSO: Assessment of Health Status; Community Health; Mental Health; Social Determinants; Social Health)